These last few weeks we have all been concerned by the plight of the Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe for safety and a better life. I chose not to publish the tragic picture of the boys who drowned, but this poignant photo of a father clinging onto his child.
What can we do? We surely cannot ignore the distress and desperation of so many. Let’s pray for our nations’s leaders to make the right decisions and respond in compassion and love toward those who are in such desperate need. Anyone with a heart cannot look at these images without feeling some sadness and compassion.
That is a reflection of God’s heart, God cares passionately about those in desperate need. Refugees are close to His heart. We mustn’t forget, Jesus and his parents were refugees in Egypt to escaping Herod’s murderous plot. There are many more examples of displaced people throughout scripture. Moses and the Israelites were delivered from Egyptian tyranny into the promised land. Early church believers poured out of Jerusalem to save their lives and consequently the gospel reached new corners of the world. The Apostle John was exiled in Patmos and wrote the book of Revelation.
All fled their homeland because of war, threat or persecution. In other words, they were refugees! God’s promise is to work all things together for good and He was able to work His purposes through the movement of His people.
God has not left us to guess how we are to treat these people so close to His heart. When we stand before our Lord on the day of judgment, He’ll ask us how we treated people in distress, strangers, the hungry and thirsty, those in need of clothes, those who are in prison, and those who are sick – each characteristic strikingly parallel to a twentieth century refugee.
Then the King will say to those on the right:
“Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25;34-36,40
Let’s not be a people who “walk by on the other side”, but are blessed to be a blessing in showing God’s love and compassion to others.